What Does a 16 Percent Increase in Accounting Job Openings by 2016 Mean for Students and Employers?

 “It’s all about jobs.” That was one of the most famous quotes from the 2008 presidential election in the United States. Now, some 5 years later, it is still all about jobs. The United States economy is fueled by jobs. Fortunately, those individuals possessing accounting degrees may have a bright future in securing a job.

Increase in accounting jobs

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, national long-term job growth for accountants and auditors is projected to be 13 percent through 2022.* Aztec Connect suggests that this is due to the increasing complexity of corporate transactions and the Sarbanes-Oxley requirements. Given the frequent media attention to the jobless rate in the United States during 2012 and 2013, it raises the question, what does the expected increase in jobs in the accounting field mean to accountants and employers? It would be nice to be able to say that current accounting graduates will have plenty of job opportunities. But could this increase in accounting jobs mean that the profession has lost its appeal and individuals are seeking employment in other areas? Could it mean that there is actually a lack of qualified individuals to fill such positions?

Who’s getting the job?

Who is getting hired? According to the Graduate Outlook Survey, “Ninety-five percent of employers from Accounting and Finance industries employed graduates in 2012. This is around the same proportion as in 2011 and a similar rate is expected in 2013.”

In 2012 there were approximately 87,177 accounting graduates in the Unities States. In 2012 approximately 50 percent of individuals passed the AICPA Exam. This would seem to suggest an ample supply of accountants. Could this data suggest that indeed there have been jobs created and available for students in the accounting profession?

According to the United States Department of Labor there were 1,275,400 accounting jobs in 2012. However, because Americans on average are holding onto jobs longer, not switching employers, and retiring later, one may question  uture employment opportunity in the accounting profession.

Looking to the future

Is the future promising for individuals looking to enter the accounting field? Is there an increase in new positions or a downturn in the appeal of the profession? Are individuals who major in accounting switching their profession once they graduate?

During the recession of 2008, banking sector failures such as that of Fannie Mae resulted in backlash financial firms on Wall Street. Banks, insurance companies, and some investors in the finance sector looked to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for explanations. What was uncovered was a shortage in personnel at the SEC. This revelation came to light during the Bernie Madoff investigation. Investigators were trying to reconcile the lack of scrutiny the SEC provided auditing Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.

What the experts see

According to Monster.com and Accountemps, employers are seeking additional accountants. Graduates want to know where these jobs are located. Often those who aim for the illustrious title of “CPA” envision themselves working in one of the top accounting firms. But are these accounting jobs created in that sector of the job market? Some of these accounting opportunities have been created in the government. If indeed these job opportunities are in the federal government, students may have cause for concern. Given the enormous debt of the federal government and its difficulty achieving a balanced budget, employment of accountants in this area may not be sustainable.

Finally, given the persistent ongoing unemployment in the United States (As of January 2014 the national unemployment rate was 6.6 percent), it is worth asking whether recent accounting graduates have the opportunity to fill these positions given that there are so many job applicants? According to AICPA, there are an increasing number of accounting graduates. According to the survey there were 226,108 individuals enrolled in accounting courses in 2011. The survey also indicates that CPA firms hired approximately 33,000 accounting graduates.  On the surface it may seem as though this increase in jobs in the accounting field means that there are plenty of opportunities for those wishing to enter the profession. However, time will tell whether these graduates are filling positions formerly occupied by experienced accountants or newly created positions requiring little experience. What exactly are employers seeking? Who specifically is doing the hiring? Those students choosing to bank their futures on this profession may want to examine what type of positions have actually increased and whether these are entry-level or more experienced positions.

* Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Accountants and Auditors, on the Internet at 
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm. National long-term projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth. 

Linda Leatherbury  is a full-time faculty member at Kaplan University. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not represent the view of Kaplan University.

Work Cited

Accounting Trends and Survey- http://www.aicpa.org/InterestAreas/AccountingEducation/NewsAndPublications/DownloadableDocuments/2011TrendsReport.pdf

Graduate Careers- http://www.graduatecareers.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/2012-GOS-AF-Industry-Report.pdf

Increase in accounting job openings by 2016- http://connect.aztecsystems.com/2011/06/10/increase-in-accounting-job-openings-by-2016/

Campbell, Annhenrie -Trend in Accounting Student Characteristics: Results from 2005-2010 Archival Transcript Data -http://www.aabri.com/OC2012Manuscripts/OC12013.pdf

ERIC NAGOURNEY- New York Times -Published: October 10, 2012 Will I Ever Get Off This Treadmill? http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/11/booming/11question-booming.html?_r=0

Request More Information

To receive the Kaplan University Program Guide, including areas of study and associated career paths, please complete this information form.